Song facts: Paperback Writer, Rain

Paperback Writer is a Beatles' song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1966. It was released as the A-side to their 11th single with John Lennon's Rain as the B-side. According to a 1972 interview with Playboy, Lennon admitted the song was mainly of Paul's creation.

"Paperback Writer is son of Day Tripper, but it is Paul's song. Son of Day Tripper meaning a rock 'n' roll song with a guitar lick on a fuzzy, loud guitar." - John Lennon
"You knew, the minute you got there, cup of tea and you'd sit and write, so it was always good if you had a theme. I'd had a thought for a song and somehow it was to do with the Daily Mail so there might have been an article in the Mail that morning about people writing paperbacks. Penguin paperbacks was what I really thought of, the archetypal paperback.
I arrived at Weybridge and told John I had this idea of trying to write off to a publishers to become a paperback writer, and I said, 'I think it should be written like a letter.' I took a bit of paper out and I said it should be something like 'Dear Sir or Madam, as the case may be...' and I proceeded to write it just like a letter in front of him, occasionally rhyming it. And John, as I recall, just sat there and said, 'Oh, that's it,' 'Uhuh,' 'Yeah.' I remember him, his amused smile, saying, 'Yes, that's it, that'll do.' Quite a nice moment: 'Hmm, I've done right! I've done well!' And then we went upstairs and put the melody to it. John and I sat down and finished it all up, but it was tilted towards me, the original idea was mine. I had no music, but it's just a little bluesy song, not a lot of melody. Then I had the idea to do the harmonies and we arranged that in the studio." - Paul McCartney
 The Beatles on Top of the Pops, June 16th 1966. 

The Beatles on Top of the Pops, June 16th 1966. 


John Lennon's ambitious B-side was influenced by the band's indulgences with LSD. Lennon has maintained that Rain is the first song to feature backward vocals. It was certainly the first Beatles' song.

"After we'd done the session on that particular song—it ended at about four or five in the morning—I went home with a tape to see what else you could do with it. And I was sort of very tired, you know, not knowing what I was doing, and I just happened to put it on my own tape recorder and it came out backwards. And I liked it better. So that's how it happened," - John Lennon
 Paperback Writer and Rain single, 1966. 

Paperback Writer and Rain single, 1966. 

 Paperback Writer and Rain single, 1966. 

Paperback Writer and Rain single, 1966. 


The Beatles recorded Paperback Writer and Rain on April 13th, 14th and 16th of 1966. For the vocal arrangements the band were heavily influenced by the harmonic sounds of the Beach Boys. The Beatles had recently been given a copy of Pet Sounds which helped them shape the iconic vocal harmonies synonymous with Paperback Writer.

McCartney's bass guitar is heavily boosted throughout the song; giving for the first time on a Beatles' record, a prominence the bass had hitherto been unaccustomed to.

Rain is most notable for its use of backward vocals and is considered by many to be The Beatles' finest B-side. Lennon accidentally played some of his vocals backwards and liked how they sounded, so he took it to the others and they ran with it. 

 Paul McCartney, 1966. 

Paul McCartney, 1966. 

  • Personnel - Paperback Writer

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, lead guitar, bass
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, tambourine
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, rhythm guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • Personnel - Rain

  • John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass
  • George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine


Paperback Writer and Rain were released as a single in the US on May 30th 1966 and June 10th in the UK. Paperback Writer reached number one in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and West Germany.

Promotional films

The Beatles filmed promotional videos for Paperback Writer and Rain in May of 1966. These clips were distributed to various outlets worldwide to promote the songs.

The band were spending much more time in the studio than in previous years and saw the promo videos as a way of travelling and promoting their music without actually needing to fly anywhere and wade through the mayhem of Beatlemania.

These promotional films are largely seen as the beginning of MTV. 

Top of the Pops

On June 16th 1966 The Beatles made their first live appearance on BBC's Top of the Pops, miming Paperback Writer and Rain.

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